Banbridge, situated on the main route from Belfast to Dublin, is one of most rapidly developing towns in Northern Ireland. Its picturesque surroundings and fertile agricultural land make it to be a highly desirable area. At an early stage the town consisted of only a few straggling thatched houses on each side of the River Bann, from which it derived its name.
The Banbridge Baptist Church was founded in 1845, and today remains as the oldest surviving Baptist Church in the county.
Under the leadership of its third pastor, W. S. Eccles, the small congregation experienced rapid growth when they enjoyed times of refreshing from the overspill of the Great Revival of 1859. Under the leadership of Pastor Eccles the fledging church embraced the opportunities of that time. So great was the fervour and hunger for the Gospel during that year that the pastor made an improvised pulpit on the lawn at his home to preach to the multitudes of people who gathered every day to hear the Word of God. At one time it was estimated that up to 2000 people gathered on the lawn and adjoining meadow to hear God’s servant. During that year many hearts were touched by deep conviction of sin and scores of lives were transformed by the power of the Gospel.
That year of revival gave great impetus and growth in the church. Over the course of one hundred and sixty years the church has had seventeen pastors leading the work aided by faithful elders and deacons who sought the welfare of the congregation.
During the history of the church the congregation has occupied two church buildings. The first, which is referred to as the old church, was secured within a short time of the church being constituted and underwent many modifications during its almost 130 years. Adjoining properties were purchased over a number of years and in 1977 a new church was built on the larger site which today is ideally located on the main thoroughfare in the town.
A succession of godly men and women have carried the responsibility of their generation in maintaining the Gospel witness in the town and community. The church has been well served by seventeen faithful pastors, preachers and teachers of the word of God, who have been greatly supported by deacons and elders in the great cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today the present buildings are fully used to accommodate the large congregation and full programme of church activities. Currently plans are afoot to redesign and enlarge the church hall to facilitate the growing number of young people who attend the various youth events at the church. The church facilities are also fully used for a Parent and Toddler’s group, Sunday School, children’s Good News Club and the full programme of mid-week meetings.
Our goal in Banbridge Baptist Church is that of Paul writing to the Ephesians; “Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21)